Helena Startup Shelwes Tools & Body Wins National Recognition

Shelwes Tools & Body of Helena recently achieved national recognition at Las Vegas’ Specialty Equipment Market Association tradeshow.

Shelwes’ product, the Shelwes automatic contour sander, was among 2,000 products submitted to the SEMA show. It competed with products by large companies like 3M. The tool took the runner-up spot in two categories of SEMA’s new products showcase: Best New Tools & Equipment and Best New Collision Repair & Refinish Product.

The product is an attachment for a power sander. It automatically conforms to irregular surfaces.

“It cuts your work time down, I would say, to less than half,” said co-founder Shelley Haynes.

Haynes said the awards were “very important. They helped us gain exposure. We immediately got published in several hot rod magazines like Fender Bender. They they did an interview with us and put us on Youtube. It helps with advertising.” (See below for video.)

Shelwes, named after founders Haynes and Wesley King, started in 2012 with help from the Helena Entrepreneur Center, a business incubator operated jointly by Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas, and Thrive, a nonprofit marketing firm that works with startups.

Haynes said the sander tool sells for $235. It’s sold both directly from her company and to retailers, and she said interest from larger retailers has grown since the SEMA awards. “We’re on target with sales projections,” she said.

Shelwes isn’t relying entirely on the contour sander, Haynes added. “We’re working on new products,” she said.